5 things you should know for your Friday in Indiana

Dan Coats is "honored" to be banned from Russia, Elkhart continues to battle an invasive species of beetle that's killing its ash trees, the Goshen mayor gives his State of the City address and two other stories to start your day.

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 5:46 a.m.

1. Dan Coats says he is "honored" to be banned from Russia

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., was one of nine lawmakers and officials who Russia banned from entering the country. The ban came shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama introduced another round of sanctions on the country.

Coats and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a Senate resolution last week that supported the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine and condemned Russia's involvement there. The Senate passed the Durbin-Coats Resolution on March 11.

The senator tweeted that he was "honored" to be on the list of banned lawmakers and officials.

"Putin's recent aggression is unacceptable, and America must join with our European allies to isolate and punish Russia." Coats said in a following tweet.

2. Elkhart's battle with emerald ash borer continues

An invasive species of beetles, called emerald ash borers, claimed 59 ash trees in Elkhart's American Park as its most recent victims.

The city has fought the insect's infestation for several years by removing seriously damaged trees and treating those that could be saved. The city is also planning to plant 300 trees this spring with more on the way for Fall.

It's the beetles' larvae that harms the ash trees, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's Stop The Beetle website. It tunnels under the bark and disrupts the transportation of food and water throughout the tree, which starves and kills it.

The species was first discovered in July 2002 in southeastern Michigan. The emerald ash borer was confirmed almost ten years ago in Indiana on April 21, 2004.

3. Goshen mayor peppers State of the City address with financial challenges, positive vibes

Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman touched on the city's financial position, upcoming construction projects and hopes for the community's future during his State of the City speech on Thursday.

He listed some of the projects the city has completed in the last year, including the reconstruction of Jefferson Street downtown. Kauffman also talked about future projects such as plans to improve traffic on the city's south side and the renovation of the Goshen Theater.

Yet Kauffman's address was not all rosy, as he spoke about the threat of state government introducing legislation that he said is "anti-local government and hurts our public schools." 

Kaufmann ended his speech on a positive note, urging the crowd to support downtown businesses and events and to take opportunities to be a part of the city's legacy.

"Develop your love affair with Goshen," he said.

4. Demand for help spiking as deadline looms to sign up for Obamacare health coverage

Those hoping to get health care coverage offered on the Obamacare marketplace exchange have until March 31 to sign up, and the upcoming deadline has spurred many last-minute insurance seekers to contact Heart City Health Center and the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for more information.

The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act was being addressed on Thursday during a presentation hosted by the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. One of the speakers, Menessah Nelson of Heart City Health Center, said they have been "completely swamped" with inquiries.

Nelson said the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that 64,972 in Indiana have enrolled in marketplace plans as of March 1.

5. Elkhart dispatchers and police honor fallen officer on 13th anniversary of his death

Elkhart police officers took a moment on Thursday evening to remember Ptl. Doug Adams, a police office who was killed in a crash involving two police squad cars in downtown Elkhart on March 20, 2001.

Elkhart city dispatchers read a statement in Adam's memory on Thursday evening.

"Elkhart Patrolman Doug Adams lost his life in the line of duty while rushing to the aid of another officer needing assistance," a dispatcher read. "Doug Adams always dreamed of being a police officer and helping others in need. Doug Adams died living his dream to the fullest."

According to The Elkhart Truth's archives, Adams was responding to another officer's call for help when the collision happened. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the car. Adams died of multiple blunt trauma injuries.

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